Julie Bindel is not a woman

Content Warning: Virulent TERFy trans-antagonism

I imagine I would be rightly discredited if I spent my entire career honing in on Julie Bindel and publishing defamatory essays justifying my frankly bizarre obsession with whether or not Bindel counts as “a woman.” Yet antagonizing trans folk is still so politically palatable that you can do exactly that and still achieve success. On no other topic can I imagine it is possible to have columns on both The otherwise-queer-friendly Guardian and the misogynistic half-fake conservative rag The Daily Mail.

Yes, that’s right, an essay comparing trans women to serial killers and rapists was published on The Guardian, a supposedly progressive news site. Somehow Bindel has mastered the art of making transphobia look simultaneously progressive and reactionary. It’s Schrodinger’s Bigotry, if you will.

Nonetheless, there are vast tracts of Bindel’s career dedicated to obfuscation and false equivalency. In her wake virtually no productive conversation on trans issues will prevail, because she kicks up enough dust that all you can do is cough. And the Working Class Movement Library in Salford, UK, decided this was who they wanted to represent their “LGBT” History month.

I’m not going to try and appeal to Bindel or her supporters–their “feminism” is little more than a gangrenous limb that refuses to fall off. Nor is this post meant to be a direct response to Bindel’s work–a quick search for “criticisms of Julie Bindel” produces hundreds of posts responding to Bindel’s nonsense.

Instead, I’m going to issue a very straightforward question for the WCML:

Do you have the integrity to be honest and rename your event the AFAB, Lesbian Separatist, Cisgender Supremacist History month? Because not even lesbian separatists want anything to do with Bindel’s particularly virulent strain of bile-spewing done in the name of “feminism.” Certainly bi folk and trans folk–you know, the “B” and “T” in your initialism–do not in general support their own defamation through bigoted talking piece Julie Bindel. So why on Earth is Bindel your “LGBT” speaker if she represents a highly specific, extremely hostile iteration of lesbian separatism that aggressively alienates the other letters?

Oh, right. “Freeze peach.” Just not for the B and T, apparently.

I’m starting to feel at this point that the only argument anti-rights advocates can muster on this topic is that it isn’t literally illegal for them to state their position. Somehow it doesn’t occur to anyone that this is the flimsiest, saddest defence one can imagine for a position. But Julie Bindel will carry on doing the patriarchy’s work and calling it feminism, and there’ll be no shortage of venues simply handwaving away criticism as “sensitivity.” More dust, less talk, and a lot of trans people struggling to cope with the stress knowing that the wrong conservative crusader could pick up these ideas and try to legislate us out of existence.

-Shiv

 

Self care Saturday, Revisited: Cleaning out the gunk

I pushed myself a little too hard.

Between Thursday and Friday I woke up at 3 AM. I couldn’t fall back to sleep anyway. Knowing “Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best” had been aired, I briefly popped it into Google to see what the internet spewed forth. Obviously I found Sarah Ditum and felt compelled to respond.

Then I picked up some more evidence for another piece I’m doing on the judicial undermining of gender identity laws in the UK, USA, and Canada, and something snapped. Or shattered, perhaps. Like a dropped champagne glass, and suddenly the whole room went silent and turns to face you. All the areas of my brain which usually just bounce information around at a speed and volume that leaves me caught between “hyperfocused” and “disoriented” gave way to a single voice.

You monsters.

A flippant comment on a petition. I know the comment was based on a blatantly false assertion, and still the imagined voice of the commentator filled in the silence. Abominations. You’re all sick.

I’ve been examining a bit too much transphobia, lately, and now those positions are taking root in my head. Even as I know they are wrong.

It’s a feeling I haven’t had since I ended my relationship with my abusive ex, someone who routinely engaged in manipulation and emotional abuse. Like feeling that I suddenly can’t trust my own judgement, despite the great pains I take to fact check.

We know if Trump repeats something enough times to the media that the volume of people who believe him increases. Is this the strategy of trans-antagonists? Can they really repeat it enough times to make even an evidence-based trans feminist crack? It seems my clarity has finally left me, and all I can see is the trail of fog left in trans-antagonistic’s wake.

This is the “hyperbole” as it is often characterized by opponents to trans rights. This debate, that trans people are sane and worthy, ironically eats away at your sanity. Who could possibly retain a flawless psyche against a never-ending undercurrent from every fucking thing you open questioning “HEY YOU? ARE YOU SANE? ARE YOU SURE YOU’RE SANE? ARE YOU REALLY REALLY SURE?”

And it feels like no matter how confidently I answer, I get another round of “ARE YOU REALLY REALLY SURE?”

Imagine if that was all people wanted to talk about. Imagine you liked NASCAR and every day of every year some asshole somewhere on the internet is petitioning the government to intern NASCAR fans in psychiatric hospitals. Imagine the courts stripped your parental custody because they think liking NASCAR is child abuse. Imagine hearing story after story of police raping NASCAR fans. Imagine entire sections of the internet dedicated to both hosting and mocking violent videos of NASCAR fans being assaulted, raped, and murdered.

And then imagine a snarling asshole whose career is organized around telling you all these things are made up.

Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can convince me I deserve it.

I’ve got a few posts left in the queue, but I’m gonna try my best to unplug for a few days.

-Shiv

Sarah Ditum: More smoke screens and white noise in service to transphobia

While it’s likely going to take me an enormous amount of page space and several weeks to form a full, detailed critique of BBC’s “Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best”*, I thought that there was nonetheless enough information within Sarah Ditum’s article “Transgender Kids: why doctors are right to be cautious about childhood transition” to respond to. This is because she admits that she hasn’t yet seen the documentary. Neither have I, which at least allows us to respond in specifics without consulting it altogether.

Knowing how much is going to be dusted up in this documentary, no doubt peddled by well meaning but ignorant cis folk, the trans feminists you know and love on the internet are likely going to have to work overtime to overcome the sheer injection of misinformation we can anticipate from trans-antagonistic feminists.

Ditum, in brief, says absolutely nothing new, and nearly nothing correct.

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Signal boosting: Some red flags in trans issue “debates”

I’ve not had the spoons to dive into anti-trans nonsense as of late, so I’ve been plundering the interwebs for trans commentators who have. I recently discovered Singularly Bizarre, a blog that has discussed Jesse Singal at length. The author is considerably wordier than I am (and that’s saying something) but they’ve also documented a pretty thorough inventory of well-cloaked dishonesty employed by anti-trans pundits.

One in particular I’ll signal boost is the tendency to start a conversation about trans children, and then make the illogical leap to discussing surgery. Undermining this trope–which does crop up a lot in Singal’s work–is this basic fact: No trans kids qualify for surgery under the prevailing standards of trans healthcare set out by the Worldwide Professional Association of Transgender Health. In fact, if we want to talk about subjecting children to “mutilation,”* we ought to be discussing the egregious human rights violations enacted on intersex children virtually everywhere in the world.

Yes, it’s this peculiar double standard that should immediately be recognized as a red flag. The idea of trans people voluntarily seeking changes to our body seems to reliably get a chorus of hoary-throated screams, but when you point out that the one of the epidemics of genital mutilation happening to children in mature Western democracies is on intersex children and infants, you get nothing but crickets.

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Stop with the psychosexual nonsense

I make it well known that I seldom have the patience to dialogue with the most hardened and dedicated advocates for the cluster of trans-antagonistic positions derived from the sort of radical feminism that makes other radical feminists grimace. There are many reasons why, but today I wanted to expand on one of them specifically, exhibited in this dialogue from Skepto that I signal boosted yesterday. Note that my response cannot be generalized as a response to all arguments suspicious or antagonistic of trans people and our rights; it could only be transferred to any other argument premised similarly.

Content Notice, again, for virulent trans-antagonism, the kind that triggers so much adrenaline you have to do a lap around the neighbourhood not to explode. Additional content notice as I cover the history of abuses perpetrated by medical systems against trans folk.

In the dialogue, the TERF in question advances the following claim:

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Signal boosting: A very smart guy

“Omphaloskeptomai,” or Skepto as I can thankfully call him, writes excellent and detailed posts. I don’t have any particular work of his I want to signal boost more than the others, so I just want to link the whole blog.

I like his work because he demonstrates what it’s like to attempt to dialogue with a self-professed antagonist to trans rights (that’s a “Content Warning” for the link, btw). Skepto is detailed and thorough and if I were the one attempting to respond to the TERF in his dialogue, I imagine the experience would be akin to trying to nail Jell’O to the wall. There’s a reason I typically prefer to respond to high profile “gender critical” arguments–it’s abusive as shit, and a lot of emotional labour on my part that I can’t spare easily. There needs to be a better payoff for that kind of work, and in my estimate my time is better spent elsewhere than an obscure anonymous peddler of pseudofreudian nonsense. Nonetheless, Skepto’s responses are insightful, and entirely cogent even if you ignore the TERF he responds do.

Check him out here. And, uh, content warning and all that, given the arguments he is responding to.

-Shiv

Rosie DiManno: Anti-trans garbage chute

I wish I got paid as much as anti-trans pundits to discredit them as they get paid to invent shit to get outraged over. Sadly it seems Canada’s corporate media has identified that anti-trans sentiment sells better, and those of us who insist on high standards of evidence are relegated to “alternative media.”

The next hit piece to grace my feed is Rosie DiManno’s fabulously victim blaming article, “End of binary gender proves to be a passport confusion.” Insert usual disclaimer for all your predictable anti-trans codswallop.

Earlier this month, Tracy Ayre took her 16-year-old son to renew his passport at the Toronto office. She brought with her his birth certificate, health card with photo, student ID card, bank statement, expired passport and her obviously boy teenager.

I have to interrupt this story already as there is an important detail here. “She brought with her his birth certificate.” According to Service Ontario, the administration responsible for government ID, the birth certificate contains: (emphasis mine)

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Signal boosting: “you’re asking me to entertain an implausible claim with zero evidence”

Blaire White is an internet dumpster fire of transphobia, who has the dubious distinction of being the anti-trans lobbyists’ token trans woman. I will never fully wrap my head around why anyone would apologize for the systems that abused them, but that is precisely what White does: Identify a system that harms trans people, and tell her fans (who range from neo-Nazis to more commonly trans suspicious people looking for confirmation of their prejudice) that the damage is justifiable, regardless of whether or not she had the good fortune to avoid it.

A few months ago a reader sent me a link to one of her anti-trans videos and I never quite recovered from the migraine ensuing. Thankfully, Zinnia Jones was already on the case, disputing many of White’s misconceptions about transitioning protocols for transgender children and teenagers.

But, you know with internet dumpster fires, every so often someone likes the smell, and they decide to throw more fuel into the dumpster. Same reader, another link, this one more recent, another migraine, more swear words, and a brief existential crisis wondering if accurate information will ever out-perform the white noise continuously injected into trans health and rights discourse.

As ever, Zinnia Jones can be trusted to fact check specious claims when the topic is gender variance. Jones responds to the criticisms of National Geographic, who recently featured a young trans girl on the cover of a recent issue. As it turns out, Blaire White, not phased in the slightest in her running for brightest and smelliest dumpster fire, is advocating for the cyber-harassment the trans girl’s parents are receiving.

Jones writes:

If you’ll only read just enough to find something marginally compatible with what you already wanted to believe, if you can’t work up the effort to inform yourself in the slightest degree, but you’re still so passionate about this that you’ll accuse someone of “child abuse” on the basis of absolutely nothing, you have a problem. Yet you’re asking me to entertain an implausible claim with zero evidence, which also happens to have an impossible timeline?

The deceptive cry of “Somebody think of the children!” is one of the oldest weapons of prejudice, wielded against same-sex parents, parents in interracial marriages, and now, parents of trans kids. These baseless allegations of abuse pose a real threat. Groups like Trans Youth Family Allies advise parents to keep what’s called a “safe folder”: a file of medical records and statements from doctors, counselors, school faculty, and others, to ensure that the family will be protected in the event of false accusations.

This is a particularly insidious tactic, because it cloaks itself in feigned concern for children while actually calling for the mistreatment of those same children. A study published in Pediatrics in 2016 found that socially transitioned trans kids aged 3 to 12 who were supported by their families had low levels of depression and anxiety, comparable to their cisgender peers. For trans children, family support for their transition is healthy and good for them. Conversely, the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that respondents who were rejected by their families were more likely to have attempted suicide and more likely to have experienced homelessness. Another study also found that family rejection was associated with higher rates of substance abuse.

Allowing trans kids to live as their gender is the better choice for their healthy development, and denying their gender is known to be worse for them.

Yeah. Trying real hard not to get depressed that other trans people are helping transphobes spin outright fabrications in their quest to derail, derail, derail.

Jones tracks the timeline of the NatGeo family, debunks several claims advanced by White, makes a few cases as to how the reasoning itself is flawed even if the premises were accurate (they aren’t), and also provides a number of helpful links investigating the health and wellbeing of trans youth.

Read more here.

-Shiv

Thoughts on the ethics of disclosure and gender identity

Brynn Tannehill penned a piece for lgbtqnation on the ethics of disclosure for trans folk in dating, as in whether or not it meets some criteria of right or wrong to disclose (or not disclose) our status as transgender or our “gender history.” For the most part I agree with her arguments, and wanted to offer some additional thoughts.

By far the most predictable piece of white noise injected into the discourse is the claim of a cis person asserting they couldn’t date a trans person or find us attractive. The problem is… well, yes you could.

To clarify, there isn’t any consistent way to spot a trans person, because there isn’t any variance in our bodily characteristics that cisgender people don’t also have. Some women have hair loss. Some men have breasts. Some women are tall. Some men are short. The belief that trans people as a demographic can be identified upon sight is predicated in the belief that there is a certain way to “look trans.” This is how trans people have been using the washroom with you long before trans panic gained traction in 2014. Most of you never knew most of us were ever there, so we minded our business and left the loo like everyone else.

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Dear Sarah Ditum: Scapegoating trans women is never the answer, either

I’m gettin’ real tired of tedious “gender critical” horseshit.

The latest flapping firehose to hit my feed on this topic is Sarah Ditum in a grating piece titled “Scapegoating feminists is never the answer.” Although Ditum links to a specific piece she is responding to–which is more than I can say of PBog–she also interjects a number of assertions important to her argument without citations, leaving me to guess at whatever the fuck she’s referring to.

Because if there’s anything a convincing argument should do, folks, it’s leave you guessing.

Content Notice for the usual trans-antagonistic garbage plus t-word reclamation.

The piece Ditum responds to isn’t a particularly strong argument either, “Trans respect, not transphobia.” And if I’m cheesed off at Ditum for the stunning lack of citations, I have to at least level the same criticism at this author, Emily Brothers. It is, in short, a post appealing to UK’s Labour Party to take up the mantle of Gender & Sexual minority rights as a portion of its labour empowerment mission. But today’s post isn’t really about the inadequacies of Brothers’ appeal to Labour*, it’s about Ditum’s hamfisted response to it.

Ditum begins:

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